Sunday, December 29, 2013

Now, we're really sick.

Health is one of many things easy to take for granted.

Voice is another.

Today is my 3rd day, Monique's 1st, of a terrible sore throat. Like, terrible, terrible.

Pneumonia was worse. Mono was worse. That's about it.

But unlike anything I've ever had before, my uluvula (?) is so swollen and irritated that I cannot speak at all.

Some of my colleagues had something similar this past month. For more than a week after they recovered, they couldn't speak more than a whisper.

Parenting is not so easy without one's voice. Teaching? Hmm.

OK, so I want your pity. Please send it my way.

I negotiated going to the doctor without speaking. The doctor made me say "Ooone, Tawoo, Thee" and then told me I had a viral infection. I'm trying hard to believe him. People react weirdly when you write all your communication. One nurse whispered to me. My kids love the miming - it's just that they do it back to me, so we are trying to overcome two communication handicaps.

I just want to drink a glass of water without extreme pain.

The kids have watched maybe 104 hours of TV today. They sort of managed to feed themselves, after I pulled out leftover Vietnamese and pointed at it vigorously before they could have cookies.

There are so many today in the world suffering - those who have nothing healthy to drink, those without useless doctors to go to, those who are bedridden, those who are voiceless, those who struggle to communicate with family through illness, those who can't work... why on earth does my own suffering narrow down my vision so I can see and think of nothing else? Courage exists in fearful situations, love exists in response to hatred, do you think I can be grateful for the many good things I've received even when I have also received one thing I do not want?

So many people close to me have undergone extreme trials of health and other struggles - somehow, I have faith that this suffering of mine unites me to their suffering... but I can't figure out how right now, cuz my head is pounding. We are all in this together, I suppose, and pretending we aren't to keep ourselves from suffering locks us out of our own experience.

Maybe I can experience this suffering wholeheartedly - maybe every moment I'm given now and after my recovery will be more vivid, more colourful, more whole, more intensely alive because my attention was so effectively called.

John Paul II's On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering is beside me in bed, but I'm not reading it. Only so much suffering I can take. Can anyone send me Coles notes on it? Put it in the comments?

Instead, Francis's Gospel of Joy, which speaks of suffering which does not extinguish the joy we hold in our hearts - when Catherine starts pointing and grunting at her peanut butter toast, I find some of that there joy.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas is coming

I am trying to take my friend and fellow blogger Anna's advice. (check out her blog at Keep Christmas simple. It is true that my kids would rather have a happy mom and some simple cookies than a grumpy mom and a amazing looking cake that took me five hours to make. So here I am on a cold (but not as cold) winters day making cookies and letting my helper get right into it. Then end result was yummy cookies, great Christmas memories and a really big mess! But hey she even "helps" with the clean up.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Today's lesson: sundogs

What are they?

A peculiar celestial phenomenon in which the ice crystals in the air refract the light of the sun so as to give the impression of two 'mini-suns' or sundogs on either side of the real sun aligned horizontally. Also, usually a ring of light that might have the colours of the rainbow in it.

Noah may have seen this if the Ark hit an iceberg.

It only happens when it is crazy cold. Like, um... TODAY!

thanks Janice Dobroski December 6, 2013 Waskada, Manitoba CanadaDate shot: December 5, 2013

OK, OK, OK.... it's cold.

"You moved here from Vancouver?!? Why did you do that?!?"
"So, how do you like the weather? Hmmmmm?"

Yes, indeed. Even weirder than having four kids, we moved back to Saskatchewan. My stock answer is, "I don't miss the rain." But nobody believes me.

My good friends on the West Coast, you have to understand that here in Saskatchewan we have a heritage of inferiority-complex, always thinking we had the misfortune to be placed in the last place anyone would want to live. Even people who love it here (like us) acknowledge that we are statistically improbable.

My good friends on the prairie, you have to understand that everyone else agrees with you: we do live in the last place anyone would want to live.

And today, I believe I have a good idea why.

Did you know that will actually use the descriptor "bitterly cold"?

Really? This is the best scientific description? If you stick your tongue out, will you perceive a bitter taste to the weather? No one really knows, of course, because anyone who sticks their tongue out has it frozen solid and can't tell us.

[When I was my son's age, I did in fact get my tongue frozen to metal on a day like this. I didn't want to touch the door handle with my hand, because it was wet. And it would freeze to the metal. So I used my mouth. Luckily, I panicked and ripped the flesh off my tongue before it could freeze too deeply.]

SO, with nods of appreciation to tax-funded Environment Canada, here is the current situation:


City of Saskatoon
4:30 AM CST Friday 06 December 2013
Wind chill warning for 
City of Saskatoon continued

Extreme wind chills in the minus forties.

This is a warning that extreme wind chill conditions are imminent or occurring in these regions. Monitor weather conditions..listen for updated statements.

A bitterly [!] cold airmass sits over Southern Saskatchewan this morning. Temperatures are within a couple of degrees either side of minus 30, and with northwest winds of 15 to 25 km/h is resulting in extreme wind chills in the minus forties.

Wind chills will moderate somewhat this afternoon, but are expected to once again reach warning levels in the minus forties overnight and into Saturday morning. With wind chills in the minus forties, frostbite can occur in as little as 5 to 10 minutes.

New survey!!!

In the comments section below, please suggest an alternative descriptor to just how cold minus forty wind chill is. Very cold? Too blah. Really, really cold? Too repetitive. Sweetly cold? Too misleading. What would be a better word?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Sacred in the Mundane

A friend of mine emailed me the other day to let me know that she was expecting another baby. This is of course exciting even if not overly surprising. This is their sixth child and everyone of them have been a welcomed blessing. In fact, babies in their family and in fact the world are a really normal every day occurrence. I have lots of friends who are expecting a baby or have just had one. Babies are born every day, lots of them. You would think that such a normal thing would not bring us just surprising joy, yet everyone calls babies "miraculous" and they are.
Is it any surprise then that God brought the biggest miracle of all to us in the same "ordinary" way. What is so special about a young mother having a baby? What is so wonderful about the news "unto us a child is born"? Isn't that every day news. Why would God not do something more amazing? I don't know, like a big fiery, explosive entrance.
But you know, that is not how I have seen God working in the world. Usually He comes in the every day ways. In the smile of a friend, the beautiful sunset, that still quiet feeling that comes when you know that you are on the right track.
I am not denying that God can and does do big miracles. And hey, a big choir of angles in the sky is a pretty big thing, but for most of us, most of the time God comes in the every day.
Today I saw Him in the laughter of my kids. I felt His presents as I kneaded bread bough. The trick is to see Him, recognize Him in those moments. Most of the time I miss Him. But that is OK, He will be there again. In the next ordinary moment.
Where is He in your day? What brought to true joy today?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Movember - Warning! Graphic visuals!

So, I didn't actually raise any money for cancer (did that last year) but I really wanted to do the 'stache thing out of solidarity with my grandpa who is an 11 year survivor of prostate cancer. 
 Feed back? 
From a colleague: "That's the second worst moustache I've seen in my life."
From my wife: "it looks very French. Like you should have a baguette or something."
I wore my beret last day.
From my kids: "yuck! It's pokey!"
One more weapon in my parenting arsenal.

And just because it's not gruesome enough on its own...
Thank you ios7!!!!